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Big Law in Europe

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:35 pm
by Anonymous User
How hard is it to land a big law job in Europe? What kind of grades would typically be needed, say, from a lower T14, if you already have advanced language skills - i.e. Spanish for Madrid/Barcelona or French for Paris.

I am mostly referring to getting a job with an American big law firm that has satellite offices abroad.

Also, is this something that would be brought up when deciding on a firm to work at, or is this something that would come up years into your employment at a firm?

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:17 pm
by cinephile
I was told never to bring it up when applying to an American office as they really don't want to take you on just to have you leave as soon as you can for their foreign office.

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:45 pm
by Anonymous User
Will be SAing at Cleary which has a substantial European presence. Almost all of the attorneys in those offices are foreign educated lawyers (a bunch with US LLMs)

I also know someone in a "US Corporate Law" practice in London. I believe those positions are pretty competitive for US law students.

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:30 pm
by Anonymous User
While a fair number of firms hire for their London offices, I'm not sure if too many firms have other European offices that regularly hire American law students. While a lot of firms have Paris or Madrid offices, my understanding is that for most firms, those offices only consist of a handful of U.S. partners and most associate hiring is done out of European law school graduates (or foreign law students with American LLMs).

Some firms will allow you to split your 2L summer with one of their European offices (I know the Magic Circle firms in particular are big on this, and I'd look at the other big international firms-- Cleary, White & Case, Latham, etc.), but very few advertise and hire summer associates exclusively for one of their non-London European offices through OCI and even fewer do during 3L OCI. There might be other positions available, but you'll need to work a little harder to find them-- networking will be crucial. If you're looking for somewhere to start, browse firm websites, find American JDs working at the offices you want to work in (especially alums), and email and ask about how they got to where they are.

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:24 am
by stillwater
Europe has an economy?

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:05 pm
by Anonymous User
Any more info on this?

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:58 am
by Anonymous User
I'll second that there is no real official hiring system for JDs at most European "big law" offices. Connections are really what's key. I summered at a Magic Circle that allowed students to spend a few weeks in one of their foreign offices and I know a couple of people who made connections with partners they worked for during this time and were offered the option to come back full time. This was by no means the norm though. Many if not most people in our foreign offices speak perfect English, have an LLM, and most have taken the NY bar in addition to being certified in their home countries. They can also just call up US colleagues in one of our other offices anytime there is a complicated US legal question. So there's just not a huge reason to have JDs on the ground in these offices (especially if they don't know the law of the foreign office) and they don't actively recruit.

A better option may be to start full time at a NY office that allows it's associates to do a secondment in a foreign office- this would probably give you more time to make connections and a better shot at being offered a place full time. There is really no way to know if any of this will work out for sure though, and it's probably best not to tell a NY office you don't really want to work for them during the hiring tread lightly.

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:43 pm
by Cognition
There's no magic rule for getting a Biglaw job in Europe - so many people want to do that the competition is ferocious. You usually can't interview for those positions through OCI, with rare exceptions. When I was at my firm, very successful associates in certain offices were occasionally invited to spend a few years practicing in one of the firm's foreign offices.

The main things that seemed to make the difference for people who got jobs like that is that they picked the right practice group at the firm. My old firm's corporate practice group happened to have the biggest international component, so that's where you needed to be if you wanted a chance to go abroad. I would avoid litigation as a practice area unless your firm's litigation department does a lot of international commercial arbitration work - you can't really litigate in most places in Europe without local licensure. This should go without saying, but only strong performers are likely to be considered for opportunities like this.

Anecdotally I have heard that foreign offices of American law firms tend to be very hard-driving and even more demanding than their stateside offices. My understanding is that if you want to work as an attorney in Europe and have a good work-life balance, work for a European-based firm, not an American firm's European office. Of course, those jobs are even harder to get if you have no way of getting a European law license.

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:51 pm
by Anonymous User
I'm first-year at a Magic Circle in London. All of the jobs in Europe for US JD holders will be for US Capital Markets law. You will be advising on US securities laws for IPOs, High Yield, Investment Grade, and normally for 144A and Reg S exemptions. Sometimes, but rarely, you will advise on US issues for M&A. Currently, the high yield market is booming and equity is pretty dead.

Most of the US firms will send out emails before the NY class starts and solicit for volunteers to do a two year stint or more in their london office. But some of them will also interview for new associate positions or even summer positions. While firms like Clear allow their summers to visit the london office, that rarely leads to an offer. Firms that have sizable US Capital Markets (JD) practices are Latham (probably the largest), Cravath, Cleary, Weil (just starting up so might be worth sending resume), Davis Polk, Sullivan, Simpson, Kirkland, etc.

The English Magic Circle firms also pay US lawyers the same as NY firms and have small classes that they hire into (Freshfields, Linklaters, A&O and CC). They have smaller classes than the US firms, usually like 3-5 per class. But they work less hours on average than US firms in London, for the same pay (but a slightly smaller COLA). Also check out Norton Rose, and some of the other international London firms, as they have very small classes (like 5-10 US lawyers total) but do hire US JDs directly out of law school.

Overall, it's a very small community. Something like 100 US lawyers maybe, and most get to know each other over the years. And they all work in a very specialized field (exempt capital markets offerings).

Some of the firms do OCI for SA positions. But if you really want to work in London, you have to be pro-active and reach out to the firms and express genuine connections, good grades, and be from a T14. Everyone here is from a T14 because clients recognize these schools. Most that I know have European language skills (although they don't use them too much), come from a top school, have a reason for being in Europe (family, significant other, have lived there before, etc), and have a desire to do capital markets work. Like some of the posters above said, it's competitive and takes some luck to land a job.

There are a few positions for American JD holders in Germany and Russia that I know of, but in the rest of Europe these jobs are non-existent. But there are also a handful of jobs in Asia if you are interested (Hong Kong and currently in Singapore).

Re: Big Law in Europe

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:28 am
by Anonymous User
For foreign offices (European and otherwise), this depends a lot on the particular city, firm, practice area, etc. The prior poster has covered London, and I think that advice applies to a lot of foreign offices (e.g. most Asian markets, Brazil, Frankfurt, etc), though other markets will of course require fluency in the native language. It's probably not wise (or at least not likely to be fruitful) to mention in U.S. interviews that you want to work in a foreign office, unless you're sure that the firm is shortstaffed in that office (e.g. some firms are shortstaffed in certain Asian offices). Your best bet is probably to apply to Magic Circle firms -- the classes are small and the jobs are competitive to get, but they're still arguably the most attainable opportunities for a U.S. JD to start directly in a European office.

I do know people who have gotten associate positions directly into foreign offices, but not through OCI. Some firms will let you spend part of your summer in a foreign office, but this won't usually lead to a full-time placement there, with some exceptions (e.g. I know people who summered in NYC but were able to either start in or transfer early on to Tokyo/Singapore/Beijing/Hong Kong because they had the language skills and the offices were expanding). A few people I know applied directly to foreign offices with high demand (again, your best bets would be Asia and Brazil more so than Europe) and landed associate positions that way. Sometimes corporate associates are able to transfer from NYC to foreign offices, but this is difficult to plan for (since it is rare and more about whether you end up working with particular people and whether your firm happens to have an opening that it doesn't want to fill with someone local). I have also seem this happen mostly with Asian markets and Brazil rather than European offices.

If you're interested in litigation, opportunities abroad will be limited, though there are a few European cities where U.S. lawyers sometimes work in areas other than corporate/capital markets. Those that come to mind are Brussels (competition law) and Paris (international arbitration, though a lot of jobs for U.S. lawyers in Paris are still for corporate work). The work in Brussels is usually not actually U.S. work, but people sometimes move from firms' U.S. antitrust work to do EU competition work in Brussels. Usually direct hires are European law grads, though, sometimes with U.S. LLMs.

Paris is a pretty big market for U.S. lawyers, as far as non-London European cities go, but hiring there is an entirely different game. First-year hires into Paris offices of U.S. firms usually start with 3-4 month internships, which quite often do not lead to associate positions. It seems to be common for people to do a few of these internships before landing an associate position (often at a completely different firm). They do sometimes like people who have taken the NY bar but, really, if this is your goal, you should see if you can do your 3L year on exchange in Paris so that you can take the Paris bar. I know people who have done this (e.g. a bunch of the top U.S. schools have a joint program with Sciences Po/the Sorbonne) and were able to find internships in Paris satellite offices. Just know that it is a pretty big commitment -- the internships are low pay, hard work and, while they seem to be necessary for new grads to do before applying for associate positions, whether or not you actually get an associate position will be totally dependent on office needs (keeping in mind they are mostly small-ish offices). And you'll face tough competition from French grads, particularly since there are enough French grads with U.S. LLMs and NY bar admission to fill most of those spots each year. Not impossible, though!

Also, just to reiterate what someone else mentioned, the work expectations in a lot of these offices can be intense. It isn't necessarily worse than biglaw in the U.S. (at least in NYC), but it's a pretty stark comparison to most of the population's work-life balance. Just something to keep in mind.